MAGNETIC ISLAND OVERVIEW 

Magnetic Island is a small community located about 8km of the coast of Townsville. It was named by Captain Cook in 1770 on board the Endeavour. He named the island Magnetical Island as he believed that the magnetic force of the area affected his compass. This force has never been demonstrated since and it is believed that Cook's compass may have been faulty.

In 1876 Harry Butler and his family became the first white permanent settlers on the island and built a cottage in Picnic Bay. The Butlers catered for picnickers to the Bay and also built several thatched cottages when there was a demand for accommodation. By 1886 there were several different parties that lived around the island and Picnic Bay had become a favourite resort for holiday makers from Townsville.

Today the island has a resident population of around 2500. It still remains a favourite getaway for people around the Townsville area and also a popular destination for backpackers. There are many levels of accommodation available from backpacker hostels, holiday houses, family resorts and there's even a new 5 star resort in the Nelly Bay harbour and marina, bringing a new level of accommodation standards to the island. 

Over Half of Magnetic Island is World Heritage National Park. There is an abundance of wildlife including curlews, rock wallabies, kookaburras, echidnas, koalas and birds. It really is nature's paradise. There are plenty of walking trails around the island that meander through the national park with panoramic views. The walking trails are all signposted making hiking easy. The walks range from easy 30 minute strolls through to very steep 2 1/2 hour journeys. The most recommended walk is the Forts Walk located in Horseshoe Bay it has magnificent views and you can spot koalas in the wild.

There are around 27 beaches around the island, some only accessible by boat. The four main residential bays are Picnic Bay, Nelly Bay, Arcadia and Horseshoe Bay. Horseshoe Bay is the most popular desitination for travellers and boasts several bars and cafes. There is a stinger enclosure on the beach for safe all year round swimming and  you can hire jetski's, kayaks, small catamarans and boats. There is plenty of accommodation available ranging from backpackers through to luxury beachfront apartments. Arcadia is a favourite for families, there are heaps of holiday houses and there is a great swimming beach with a lifeguard on duty. Picnic Bay which was once the hub of the island is now a quiet place to getaway.

There are day tours leaving from the island to take you to The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The reefs around Townsville are in good condition and it's good to take the opportunity to visit one of the reefs without the big crowds. There is also fringing reef around the island. You can hire snorkelling equipment  from most resorts and snorkel right off the beach at Alma, Arthur and Florence Bays. Diving is very popular on the island and there is a PADI diving school in Arcadia which is a great location to learn to dive and complete an open water diving course. There are day trips that leave to take you to the Yongala Wreck which is rated among the top 10 dive sites in the world.

There are plenty of outdoor activities including horseriding, hiking, jetsking, sailing, kayaking, bike riding, snorkelling, aeroplane joyrides and diving. You really have to get out and see and do everything to make the most of this special place.

The nightlife on the island is generally quiet. Once a month there is a Full Moon Party on the beachfront at Base Backpackers in Nelly with big name DJ's playing through until sunrise. 

THE BEST TIME OF YEAR to visit Magnetic Island is during the winter months. The weather is beautiful during winter, the temperature is usually around 27 degrees during the day and the water temperature is still good for swimming. The wet season and stinger seasons are over and towards the end of winter you can even spot whales migrating up the coast. It's a great place to get away from the winter blues in the southern states.

VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE that Magnetic Island is located in the tropics.  Through the Summer Months it is very hot and humid. It is wet season therefore it does rain a lot - mostly at night. It is stinger season, there are jelly fish in the water and it is highly recommended that you wear a lycra suit while swimming in the ocean. It is also cyclone season so it is always a good idea to keep an eye on the weather. A good website for weather is www.bom.gov.au. Click on weather and warnings - queensland - nothern. The island is very quiet during the summer months and you can get great deals on accommodation. When there is a good wet season, there are several waterfalls - the best one is in Arcadia.